Color, 1975, 100 mins. 24 secs.
Directed by Sergio Martino
Starring Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Lia Tanzi, Gianfranco Barra, Barbara Magnolfi
Arrow Video (Blu-ray & DVD) (US/UK RA/RB HD/NTSC), Sazuma (Germany R2 PAL) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
This movie is nuts! By 1975, director Sergio Martino had obviously had enough of straight giallo films (his last pure one was really Torso), but he sort of dipped his toes in one more time with this half-comedic, all-over-the-map mixture of gory slashings, Italian cop conventions, and the goofiest car chases this side of a '70s Disney film.
The serving plotline begins with a frizzy-haired young hooker being stalked during and after a wedding celebration by a sinister man in sunglasses who eventually catches up with her at her apartment, where he slashes her throat. Her presence had been noticed earlier by Inspector Germi (Cassinelli), a not-by-the-book undercover cop who teams up with a sly thief (Barra) to track both the vicious murderer and the instigators of a widespread kiddie and drug-dealing ring. When not being lectured by his boss (Ferrer), the unstoppable cop undergoes a series of bizarre adventures including a wild shootout on a rollercoaster ride, a knife attack in a theater filled with necking lovers during a screening of Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, two gruesome encounters with subway trains, a fight on the roof over a theater, and much, much more.
No plot synopsis can really convey the whiplash tone of this film, which never stops for a minute to rest as it ricochets between gory attack sequences (including one unlucky overweight victim in a towel getting knifed and face-dunked into a glass window), quirky character bits (with Suspiria's Magnolfi and the unmistakable Franca Scagnetti making brief but memorable appearances), and "what the hell?" plot twists culminating in a suitably dark, cynical finale. The whole thing is buoyed by Luchiano Michelini's amazing music score, a rock-heavy blast clearly inspired by the same year's Deep Red.
Some pretty dire bootlegs of this title have floated around over the years, but its reputation started to improve tremendously for anyone who set eyes on the now-defunct Sazuma's welcome DVD edition (under the Italian title, Morte sospetta di una minorenne) in 2006. The anamorphic transfer looks good throughout for the time, and the audio is in Italian mono with optional English, Dutch or German subtitles. Apart from Ferrer, the actors are all clearly speaking Italian which makes this the most legitimate way to go. Extras include the lively Italian theatrical trailer, a very academic German audio commentary track (with optional English subtitles) by critics Christian Kessler and Robert Zion (who focus on the film's place in the Italian exploitation canon, Martino's directorial history, and the clever manipulations of multiple genres), a poster gallery, and a half-hour interview with Martino (who also briefly introduces the film) entitled "Crime Scene Milan," playable in Italian with either English or German subtitles. He talks more about horror and action filmmaking at the time in general (often bemoaning his own country's lack of appreciation outside its favorite auteurs) and, like most Eurocult interviews these days, frequently invokes the name of Quentin Tarantino.
In 2017, Arrow Video surprised quite a few giallo fans by announcing a sparkling new release of this film on Blu-ray and DVD in both the US and UK; perhaps even more surprising is the fact that the LPCM mono options include the usual Italian track (with optional English subtitles) and the very rare English track (with optional English SDH subtitles). It's a real treat to hear it this way with Ferrer providing his own voice and the dubber for Cassinelli (familiar from loads of '70s Italian films) clearly having a blast with lines like "The police suck!" and "Okay, fatass, stand over in the corner and keep quiet!" The transfer itself looks great and pretty accurate for a '75 Italian film; it's gritty and grainy where it counts but clear and nicely detailed, with colors looking natural throughout (though due to the lighting, skin tones veer a little reddish in some interior scenes). Compared to the prior Sazuma release, there's quite a bit of additional image info visible (especially on the bottom), and the proportions now look better with the facial squeezing visible before now completely remedied. The language you choose determines whether you get the Italian and English credit sequences, the latter featuring a title card as Too Young to Die.
A new audio commentary by Troy Howarth takes a looser, more lighthearted tone than the prior one as he veers through the film's schizophrenic nature, the array of character actors on display, and the tradesmen who found glory during the height of Italian film production around this time, not to mention the ways this film both conforms to some familiar giallo themes (the victimization of the young, the depravity of the wealthy, and so on) and completely undermines them in other ways. A new Martino interview by Freak-o-Rama, "Violent Milan" (42m54s), covers the basics of his previous interview but in more detail as he explores he desire to do a different type of police story at the height of his giallo and sex comedy cycles. He also goes into the film's original title (the same as this featurette), his memories of the bilingual Ferrer, the recurring actors he employed here, and his positive impressions of the completed film itself including his fondness for the finale. The Italian trailer is also included (with English subtitles), while the packaging also includes (in the first pressing only) a new essay by Barry Forshaw.
Updated review on September 15, 2017